By Paul Losch
Airport Security When You Have Not Cleared SecurityUploaded: Dec 28, 2010
Tuesday morning, December 28, was an absolute zoo at SF Airport. Understandable, given all the closures of airports on the US east coast due to snow conditions in prior days.
Consequently, the place was packed this morning with people of all shapes and stripes trying to make connections that they had missed due to weather in the prior days. Lines to check in, lines to check baggage, lines to clear security.
My college age daughter left today for a semester of study in China, so her travel was a bit more complicated than jumping on a Southwest Airlines flight to LA. The wait in line was a nuisance, but here is what really disturbed me:
Someone left unaccompanied two bags in the international check in line we were in--go to the ladies' room or something else? Here were these two bags that had not been through security clearance, abandonded for all intents and purposes. An airport employee noticed them, contacted SFO police, and in the meantime, my daughter, her mother and I had to walk by these suspect bags.
I could not but think how this could be a situation where someone looks innocent enough, gets far enough from the bags to detonate explosives that would have killed and injured hundreds of people who were in the area.
SFO persnonnel just watched the bags, would not move them. SFO police, supposedly with a bomb sniffing dog, did not appear within the ten minutes until the somewhat older woman, with limited grasp of the English language came back to claim her bags and place in line. In fact, I never saw a police officer at any time while this scary incident was going on.
I am an experienced traveler, and this occurence today really bothers me. It turned out to be an incident where a perhaps naive traveler, not familiar with US airport protocols, an unclear procedure between airline and airport employees on how to deal with these bags, and most importantly, no response from SFOPD for over 10 minutes after the situation was reported.
I am alive, but I am appalled.